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Devil's Tower Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1996


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The turning point of the Civil War had come when the bodies got up at Shiloh. Dangerous magic had risen on a flood of blood and violence, and it swept across the land, washing away all but the strong and the lucky. Unnatural powers had been loosed, and nothing would ever be the same again.
Towns out west were dying faster than mayflies in June. To survive the perils of the frontierbandits, hexes, marauders, and conjurations, folks needed a strong sheriff. And any lawman who expected to survive had better have a fast gun and a talent for magic.
Jake Bird wasn't aiming to pin any star to his chest. He had a talent, maybe a strong one. But before he could search out his future, he'd have to face his past--and stand up against the man who'd killed his father. That would mean a showdown against the most dangerous wielder of magic in all the West: General George Armstrong Custer!
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 346 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034540209X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345402097
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Sumner is the author of numerous novels, including Devil's Tower which was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. His News from the Edge series (including The Monster of Minnesota and Vampires of Vermont) was the basis for the television series The Chronicle which appeared on the SyFy network.

His latest book, The Evolution of Everything, is his first non-fiction work. In it, he looks at how Darwin's ideas have been misunderstood, and how selection affects not just the natural world, but everything around us.

He worked for two decades as a field geologist, discovering miles of cave beneath western Kentucky, uncovering dinosaurs in South Dakota, and exploring for minerals across many western states. He now works in an office -- which is not nearly as scenic or exciting, though it does tend to stay warm and dry.

He is a contributing editor at the political web site Daily Kos, where he frequently writes on issues of science, the environment, and the economy. He holds a Masters Degree from Washington University, and lives with his wife and son in a drafty log cabin near St. Louis, Missouri. He still owns a rather rickety ultralight plane for use on those occasions when the world seems a little too safe.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Higgins on March 24, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
As can be seen from the reviews below, this is a truly enjoyable book (as is the sequel, Devil's Engine). Pretty much everything -- characters, action, etc.-- works in the books (A smidge of explanation of why the dead rose at Shiloh, etc. would have pleased this reader but with magic sometimes there just is not an explanation.).

Thus the question: Why was the series not continued!?! It really started to take off in the sequel. And then, nothing. One can only hope that either the publisher will get smart and encourage Sumner to revisit his fantasy Wild West or another publisher will grab Sumner and get him working on another book in this series, if he does not already have one waiting.

In any case, if you are wondering whether to purchase the book or not, get it and the sequel. They deliver the entertaining read promised.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Shows on December 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have to agree with other reviews of this book. Overall, it was a great read, lots of fun, lots of tension, lots of action. The protagonist, Jake Bird, is strong and sympathetic, and you really pull for him, much as you do for Stephen King's young Roland in the Dark Tower series. The only thing that keeps me from giving Devil's Tower five stars is that I didn't find the final "showdown" to be as climactic and exciting as I thought it should have been--when compared with earlier high points. The result of the battle felt inevitable, and some of the tension went out of the story there. I must say that the tone created by the imagery Sumner uses for the water shape shifter has left an indelible mark in my memory. Sumner is an impeccable writer, and I intend to buy the sequel ASAP.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Mann on January 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a great read!!!!! The combination of magic and the old West is simply fascinating, and I can't imagine it being done any better than what Sumner has created. He manages to weave the fantasy into the reality so seamlessly, you can actually imagine it happening. I love this book!!!!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is a wild, wild west that never was, where enchantment is alive and the Devil's not too far to beckon. DEVIL'S TOWER, by Mark Sumner, is an alternate historical tale, the timeline shift occuring at Shiloh during the Civil War, when the dead stood up. Since then, people have been discovering magical talents within themselves, thus altering the geopolitics of the frontier. Suddenly the position of Sheriff has taken on a whole new role as he now becomes not only the enforcer of the law but also the last stand against the world's newly awakened unnatural forces. So now whosoever is Sheriff had better be armed with an ample share of mystical wherewithal.

A decade has elapsed since the battle at Shiloh. 17-year-old Jake Bird has fled his hometown of Calio, following the death of his father, that town's Sheriff, who was challenged and killed by General George Armstrong Custer, an ambitious and powerful sorcerer. Now the unassuming Jake is eking out a living as a stable hand at tiny Medicine Rock, somewhere in the Wyoming Territory. But Medicine Rock's Sheriff Privy senses something special about Jake and deputizes him, even though Jake is unawares of his talent or if he has any, to begin with.

In these new and weird times, you don't get to be Sheriff by holding elections. You become one by engaging and defeating the current Sheriff in a magical duel. Wielders of the craft, mighty and low, challenge Sheriffs all the time. Jake isn't granted the chance to grow into his new deputy status as circumstances brought about by the arrival of Quantrill, a particularly nasty challenger to Sheriff Privy, forces Jake to once again flee. But Jake Bird, he has to face his past sometime.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am usually not a fantasy book reader, let alone a reader of fiction. However, "The Devil's Tower" is a definite exception! The concept alone of people all over the US gaining magical powers after "Bloody Shiloh" is an original and entertaining premis.

Add to that a well written and ricly detailed story about townfolk trying to deal with villians such as Custer and Quantrill as they rampage through the west, and you have a book that is a great read.

I recommend Mr. Sumner's book for historians who like to read about alternate history and for fantasy/magic readers who might enjoy historical figures appearing in their literature.
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